- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 18, 2012

NEWTOWN, Conn. — New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz visited the home of the 6-year-old Connecticut shooting victim who was buried in a replica Cruz jersey.

Jack Pinto was among 20 children shot to death Friday in Newtown. Several elementary school-age children played touch football in the front yard of his family’s home Tuesday. Many wore Giants jerseys or Newtown football or wrestling shirts as they laughed, smiled and hugged.

The children and their families left after several hours. Kids carried autographed Giants footballs and jerseys.

About 45 minutes later, Cruz left the home in an SUV and an escort of five police cruisers, sirens blaring. He later tweeted that he has “much love to the entire Pinto family. Great people with huge hearts.”

Several people leaving the home confirmed Cruz was there.

Rib injury lands Bears’ Bush on injured reserve

LAKE FOREST, Ill. — Chicago Bears running back Michael Bush was placed on season-ending injured reserve Tuesday because of a rib injury, and Kahlil Bell was signed to take his place on the roster.

Losing Bush is another blow for the struggling Bears. They’ve dropped five of six after a 7-1 start and are coming off a loss to Green Bay that clinched the NFC North for the Packers.

Chicago needs help to make the playoffs after leading the division for much of the season, and losing Bush does not make matters easier.

Signed to a four-year deal to give the Bears depth in the backfield with Matt Forte, Bush appeared in 13 games and ran for 411 yards and five touchdowns. Bell was waived by Chicago in October.

Packers putting faith in struggling Crosby

GREEN BAY, Wis. — The Green Bay Packers are sticking with Mason Crosby, despite the kicker’s season-long struggles.

After missing a pair of field goal attempts during the Packers’ 21-13 victory over the Chicago Bears on Sunday, Crosby is 17 of 29 (an NFL-worst 58.6 percent) and has botched at least one kick in the past eight games. Last season, he was 24 of 28 on field goal tries.

The Packers twice went for it on fourth down against the Bears, converting a fourth-and-2 from the Chicago 37-yard line in the second quarter instead of trying a 55-yard field goal and converting a fourth-and-6 from the Bears 26 instead of attempting a 44-yard kick.

Sanchez, Jets stumble out of the playoff race

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Rex Ryan has stuck up for Mark Sanchez from the start. Watching the quarterback literally throw away the Jets’ slim playoff hopes with a season-high five turnovers (including four interceptions) against Tennessee may be the final straw for New York’s coach.

Sanchez turned the ball over on the Jets’ final three possessions Monday night, the last a fumbled snap at the Tennessee 25 with 43 seconds left, and the Titans held on for a 14-10 victory that knocked New York (6-8) out of postseason contention.

Sanchez leads the league with 24 turnovers, including 17 interceptions, and has turned the ball over 50 times since the start of last season.

Ryan has confirmed that Greg McElroy will start Sunday against the San Diego Chargers.

Around the league

STEELERS: Cornerback Ike Taylor (fractured ankle) will miss his third straight game, and cornerback DeMarcus Van Dyke (shoulder) was placed on injured reserve. Pittsburgh signed former Penn State cornerback Justin King to take Van Dyke’s place on the roster. King was a fourth-round selection by St. Louis in 2008 and played five games this season in Indianapolis before being released.

BILLS: Buffalo signed starting right guard Kraig Urbik to a four-year contract extension worth $13.3 million. The Bills claimed Urbik off waivers in September 2010 after he was released by Pittsburgh. He has 26 starts at guard and center in 34 games with Buffalo. Starting receiver Donald Jones was put on the reserve/non-football illness list. The Bills not reveal the nature of the illness. He is third on the team with 41 catches for 443 yards and four touchdowns.

SEAHAWKS: Rookie safety Winston Guy was reinstated from the suspended list by Seattle after missing the past four games for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Guy’s return was listed on the league’s transaction report Monday. Seattle has received a roster exemption, but Guy cannot play until he is added to the active 53-man roster.

BROWNS: Cleveland placed linebacker James-Michael Johnson and defensive back T.J. Ward on injured reserve with knee injuries. Johnson, a rookie, and Ward are starters for a defense that allows 22.1 points per game. Alec Scheiner has been named the team president. Scheiner, 39, will join the Browns after eight years with the Cowboys.

JAGUARS: Jacksonville placed defensive end Andre Branch and running back Jordan Todman on injured reserve and promoted receiver Mike Brown, linebacker Brandon Marshall and tight end Isaiah Stanback from the practice squad.

COWBOYS: A judge ordered Dallas nose tackle Josh Brent to wear an electronic monitor pending his trial on an intoxication manslaughter charge in the one-car crash that killed teammate Jerry Brown, a member of the practice squad.

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